The dissemination of “fake news” in American society has been discussed ad nauseam at this point, but several companies have been working hard to resolve the situation over recent months. Granted Facebook is perhaps more at fault than anyone else for the spread of fake news and political misinformation during the US election of 2016, to their credit, almost no one has done more to resolve the problem than Facebook now has.
On April 6th 2016, the Vice President of Facebook’s news feed released an official press release, announcing the companies intentions to crack down on sources of fake news in the future. Entitled “A New Educational Tool Against Misinformation,” the document chronicles several key issues Facebook has been working on to resolve the issue. The document also features a list of tips to help educate Facebook users on how to spot fake news stories more easily in the future.
Over the course of the past several months, Facebook explains how the company has been “ disrupting economic incentives” granted to companies profiting from spreading fake news advertising, that they have built “new products to curb the spread of false news” and are now attempting to help “people make more informed decisions when they encounter false news.” While these efforts have been modestly successful, these are not the first moves Facebook has made to crack down on the spread of fake news through their services.
In the fall of 2016, Facebook made international headlines when the company decided to replace artificial intelligence algorithms with real life humans, in order to post stories more accurately in their “trending news” section. Around the same time, Facebook also began limiting the advertising requests granted to certain pages or authors who attempted to hide or disguise their identities. The company also launched a new “report” button, in hopes of spurning the viewing public to self regulate and report fake news postings if/whenever they saw them.
While these measures were admirable, they have not entirely solved the problem and unfortunately, the longer this issue persists, the more complicated it seems to become. Considering that anyone in society is free to share and post whatever they want in live time and signing up for an account of page is 100% free, some people argue that fake news is an impossible problem to solve.
Regardless, Facebook is trying to remain optimistic about the situation and has officially released a list of 10 tips, meant to ultimately help spot and stop the spread of fake news in the future. This includes:
1. Be skeptical of headlines.
Facebook notes that false news stories often have catchy headlines, using all caps and exclamation points; anything to get your attention.
2. Check the URL
A URL that looks very much like that of another site you’ve actually heard of is a clear warning sign. Many of these false news sites mimic authentic news sources and make small changes in the URL so you don’t immediately notice.
3. Investigate the source
Make sure that the article comes from a source that you trust, a source that has a reputation of being accurate. If the story comes from an unfamiliar organization, it’s best to check the “About” section to learn more about them.
4. Check for formatting
Many of these false news sites have misspellings or weird layouts. A reputable site will make sure everything is in place and easy to read. Typos will happen even with the largest organizations, but they’re an exception, not the norm.
5. Look at the photos
False news stories often contain manipulated images or videos. While the photo may sometimes be authentic, it could be taken out of context. A reverse Google image search can tell you more about it.
6. Check the dates
Sites promoting false news may contain timelines that make no sense, or the dates may have been altered altogether to fit the purpose.
7. Check the evidence
If you have any doubts, check the author’s sources to confirm that their portrayal of the situation is accurate. Lack of evidence or relying on unnamed experts can be clear indicators of a false news story.
8. Check other reports
Most often than not, a topic is reported by multiple sources. Check other reports on the same story and see if they match.
9. Is it a joke?
If we had a dime for every time someone took an article posted by a satirical site as real, we’d be richer than Bill Gates. Check to see if the source of the article is known for its parody articles or if there are any other indicators the story was written just to have some fun.
10. Some stories are intentionally false
When reading, use critical thinking. Share only the news that you know is credible.
When it comes to the spread of fake news, Google has faced far less criticism than Facebook has for their role in the whole affair. This is because unlike Facebook, whom will literally accept money from anyone willing to pay them, Google only accepts money from registered corporations to do the same. For example, I reached out to Google Adwords in an attempt to get Alternative Medi4 and some of my stories exposed to a larger audience, but Google refused to accept my money because I am just a private website owner, not a registered news corporation with the US Government. I then formally applied to get featured on Google News and once again, the company refused to ever respond to my application.
The video below also demonstrates this point to a certain degree, using a real life fake news event from 2015. However, adding to the complexity of the problem, unlike me, both Milo and Brietbart, whom wrote and disseminated to story below, are both registered corporation whom are allowed to freely advertise on Google and other platforms. Considering that Google also carries advertisements for people like Alex Jones on a regular basis, as you can see, Google is far from at fault for this whole situation themselves.
In an attempt to limit the spread of misinformation on their service even more, earlier today on April 7th 2017, Google announced their latest development to fight the potential spread of fake news on their service – an automatic fact checking features which will trigger in response to certain search queries. In today’s press release, Google acknowledges that with “thousands of new publishes everyday,” it has become “hard for people to distinguish fact from fiction” and for this reason, the company has decided to make “the Fact Check label in Google News available everywhere, and expanding it into Search globally in all languages.”
Google goes on to add that “For the first time, when you conduct a search on Google that returns an authoritative result containing fact checks for one or more public claims, you will see that information clearly on the search results page. The snippet will display information on the claim, who made the claim, and the fact check of that particular claim.”
Not every search entered on Google will cause the new fact check feature to register, rather, only specific statements/questions will cause it to pop up. You can read more about their newest feature and how to use it here: https://blog.google/products/search/fact-check-now-available-google-search-and-news-around-world/